Work starts on exciting new public space

Balkerne Gate public realm project


Work has begunon an exciting new town centre public space, which is set to transform the area around the Mercury Theatre. 
The Balkerne Gate public realm project will create an inviting and welcoming entrance to the town centre and provide new opportunities for performance and open-air activities adjacent to the newly redeveloped Mercury Theatre. 
The redesigned area will incorporate a highly accessible kerbless public realm, complete with new trees and seating, and is the precursor to the scheme’s second phase, which will extend across a wider area to encompass the Colchester Arts Centre and Jumbo. 
The work is being financed from the same investment stream as the St. Nicholas Square public realm project, the accelerated Town Deal Fund, which was awarded to We Are Colchester last September.
It is based on designs by award-winning Colchester architects, Purcell. Local building contractors, Phelan Construction Ltd and Colchester Construction, will be undertaking the work, which is being project managed by Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd and Colchester Borough Homes on behalf of Colchester Borough Council.  
Councillor Darius Laws, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Business & Heritage, said: “I am both pleased and excited that work on the Balkerne Gate public realm project has finally started and is set to create a really vibrant and attractive gateway into the Town Centre. 
“The transformation of this vital public space builds on the excellent work already underway to make our town a more welcoming and accessible place for all and will substantially improve the local environment and help attract even more footfall to the area. 
With all the wider social, cultural and economic benefits this scheme will generate, the timing could not be better – helping to deliver a huge and much-needed boost to the Arts and Hospitality sectors as we begin to rebuild from the pandemic.” 
Steve Mannix, Executive Director of The Mercury Theatre, added: “We are grateful to Colchester Borough Council for redesigning this area surrounding the Mercury.
“As we reopen and welcome visitors and audiences to our fully refurbished and transformed theatre, these extensive and vital changes will complement the fully accessible approaches we have made throughout the building and really revitalise the area; creating a welcoming and tranquil open space for our audiences and all visitors to the town.” 
More information on the public realm projects can be found here. Information on the Town Fund can be found here. 
The works is expected to be completed by late autumn.
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